Is Your Job About To Be Outsourced By A Computer (The Probability Is 47%)

Tyler Durden's picture

Productivity. Every employer loves it, and every employee is fascinated by it, especially if it comes in cute colors, a retina screen, and weighs under a pound... at least until such time as "productivity" results in the loss of the employee's job, which in turn makes the employer love it even more as it results in even higher profits, even if it means one more pink slip and a 91 million people outside the labor force.

With a labor force already in turmoil as millions drop out every year never to be heard from again, made obscolete by the latest technological and computerized innovation, and students stuck in college where they pile up record amounts of student loans (at last check well over $1 trillion) hoping form some job, any job, upon graduation, unfortunately the future is not bright at all.

In a recently published paper, "The Future of Employment: How Susceptible are Jobs to Computerisation," Oxford researchers Frey and Osborne, look at the probability of computerization by occuption. What they find is shocking for nearly half of the US labor force, and especially those in the transportation, production, office support, sales, service and extraction professions.

JPM's Michael Cembalest summarizes it as follows:

Life after college: be prepared for technology to continue changing the job landscape

There’s plenty of data on unemployment rates and salaries by undergraduate major (the majors with the lowest unemployment rates and highest salaries: computer, chemical, electrical, civil and mechanical engineering; math/physics; and economics. Drama and film majors are a recipe for living at home). A more important long-run issue to think about may be how technology affects your career. Researchers at Oxford just published an analysis assessing what jobs might be computerized in the future. Their conclusion: a staggering 47% of the US workforce, spanning a range of career types. There are vigorous debates about outsourcing, but increasingly, computerization may grow as a factor affecting employment conditions.



In The Man in the White Suit, Alec Guinness invents a suit that never has to be cleaned or replaced. London’s tailors and dry cleaners angrily chase him down in the street  to destroy his invention. They are relieved when the suit finally starts to unravel, since the fiber’s design is flawed. Productivity improvements are great things, but there might be a point at which too much power shifts to capital over labor. Anyway, when you think about a career, remember that in some professions, eventually a computer might be able to do it too, or reduce the economic value of you doing it (e.g., the impact of the internet on print journalism).

The good news: those iPad apps are cheap, and most unemployed workers - who were put out of a job thanks to one - can afford them. The bad news: anyone lamenting the return of America's employment golden age, is kindly encouraged to exhale.

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fonestar's picture

Won't happen to me, I'm unexpendable

Ying-Yang's picture

Alec Guinness invents a suit that never has to be cleaned or replaced.

How about underwear that never has to be cleaned or replaced.

Never worry about shit!

hedgeless_horseman's picture



MSFT up 40% YTD.  This is the short opportunity of a lifetime. 

This company blows goats. 

Office is now an annual fee, not a purchase.  Trying to purchase a copy is harder than signing up for Obamacare.

outamyeffinway's picture

LibreOffice is a GO!!! Can anyone spell L-I-N-U-X?

Quus Ant's picture

and OpenOffice. 

The rout has been on for a while.

markmotive's picture

Probability that porn gets outsourced to a computer = 0%

Note to self...move to LA.

flacon's picture

"Productivity improvements are great things, but there might be a point at which too much power shifts to capital over labor."


Karl Marx for everyone else - this is exactly the problem that Marx addressed in the COMMUNE(ist) mANIFESTO:


We are going to get global COMMUNE(ism), where we all inheret the earth - KARL MARX STYLE! 



Crisismode's picture

Wait until you need a plumber to fix your burst pipes.


Can't see a 3D-printer doing that for you.

Or, an outsource from Banglahore.

Nope, gotta be a Joe-SixPack that comes to your house.

Unless, you have a better substitution.


flacon's picture

Ticker symbol "NYSE:BPD" (Burst Pipe Derivatives) will solve all your problems though some sort of re-insurance plan. Just don't ask me how it works, but I got rich off it! /sarc

EscapeKey's picture

This is the year of Linux on the desktop!!!1eleventyone11

I don't think I'll be outsourced anytime soon. According to my wife, my main job is to empty the litter box. I haven't yet seen the lines of perl or C# which can do that.


malikai's picture

That sounds like a job just begging to be outsourced.

Have kids?

giggler321's picture

I've got news for you; the probability that we're all in a simulation is greater than 99% which means all our jobs are done by computer.  The difference is only where, in simulation or in simulator. (Nick Bostrom)

Possibility 3.  The fraction of all people with our kind of experiences that are living in a simulation is very close to one.
If (3) is true, then we almost certainly live in a simulation.

Ofcourse 1 or 2 or 3 take your pick as either way we're f***ed

SWRichmond's picture

The jobs high on the list to be computerized are all bullshit nine-to-five office jobs that don't mean a fuck: Service, Office and Administrative Support, Sales.  These are all the "jobs" that we can effing do without, and are mostly populated with single moms / angry feminists / other useless parasitic, entitled drones.  Ask any guy (if you can find one) who still works in an "office".

Make something, for Christ's sake, you useless fucking paper pushers.

El Viejo's picture

In the book: "Automate This" Chris Steiner mentions how in the PAST few years several things have been autmated.  Such as Song writing, Pharmacists, and other various professions.  Great Book!

Shocker's picture

Good possiblity, just look at the Current Job Market


Parrotile's picture

Automated drug distribution systems certainly save time and provide a very cost-effective 24/7 service, PROVIDED that they themselves are appropriately resupplied. There are a LOT of Hospital Pharmacists that would be very happy to have the repetitive, "stick a label on a bottle" task replaced by a machine, so they can then use their 5 year Degree skills as they should be using them - to provideenhanced-value Clinical rather than Supply services, something that machines (following pre-programmed "guidelines") are currently very poor at doing.

chemystical's picture

Oy, no anger issues there.  Try some therapy.  That hasn't been fully outsourced yet, but existing "shrink in a box" models would use your input to conclude that your a conflicted misogynist.  You'd like to love women but their repeated rejection of you points you in the other direction.  Your reaction to their rejection then serves only to reinforce their rejections as you confirm their suspicions. 

Do you order your own toilet paper, or does a sensor detect the usage rates of you and your colleagues and then derive an order pattern that is programmed into a dedicated intranet between TP R Us and your widget co? 

My experience is that employees who think that legal, environmental, purchasing, supply chain, S&R, QC, R&D, mfg, acctg, etc etc (anyone except them) are useless....are typically those who have never been involved in upper management and can't see beyond their cubicle. 

The key is to use each function efficiently.  Legal?  They are risk management.  Environmental, Health and Safety?  Ditto...except for the few enterprises who truly believe in being a good neighbor/supplier/employer...and for those who don't: "Let me introduce you to Legal (who work with the beancounters to decide the relationship between dead babies and profit)".  Etc, etc.  Integrating the parts is probably not your forte.  Stick to misogeny from left field.

SWRichmond's picture

All hail the regulatory state and all of the cost-only make-work office jobs it adds.  This is the same regulatory state from whence flows all the power of the state.  The same regulatory state that doesn't care if you are able to do anything or make anything or not.

All that matters is that you comply.  And these angry, determined, self-important denizens of the regulatory state will make sure that your life is miserable while you are simply trying to earn a living.  Thst is, of course, unless you hire your own, similar army of compliance-ensurers who also dont care if you are able to do anything or make anything, as long as you let them do their jobs.  And the surest way to comply is to do nothing and make nothing.


Vendetta's picture

Nobody needs to do payroll in the US if the jobs are moved to some 'low cost center' anyways, right?  So the haters of the 'paper pushers' won't have to worry about it much longer after TPP is passed neither will the US based 'useless paper pushers'  ... but please everyone, keep shopping.

Lost My Shorts's picture

The NSA is right now working on a robot that could grab the cat by the neck, and insert a vacuum nozzle into its ass, and suck out the contents.  By version 2.0 it will be capable of sedation.  Your days are numbered, pal.

Dave Thomas's picture

Better yet, with that C# experience you should be able to code an Arduino to control a stepper motor controller to fish the turds out with a rake, sure it'll be a 150 dollar kitty box, but hey it's automated! Or wait, have a controller drop a beer into an RC car that follows tape right to your lazy boy, my excuse is I that I don't want to saw holes into my fridge yet heh.


pavman's picture

Give me half a billion dollars to make a website and by tootin... not only will it clean out your litter box, but it'll make you breakfast *every morning*

AGuy's picture

"Office is now an annual fee, not a purchase."

Your not missing anything. Since MS-Office 2002, MS has been dropping features left and right. Every newer version costs more, and you get less features, which is the exact opposite of Moore's law. Unfortunately MS isn't alone as Adobe and probably other software companies are doing the same by moving to the cloud and/or software subscriptions.


pavman's picture

This was Bill Gate's dream spooge like 10 - 15 years ago.  He even wrote about it.  Its all about turning everyone into slaves with no property ownership.

post turtle saver's picture

it's the short opp of a lifetime because it looks like they're going to hire the current Ford CEO to take over from Ballmer... lol, yeah that's the ticket

outamyeffinway's picture

Moral of the story: don't open a business in the US unless you're an exporter.

Wyatt Junker's picture

We need a new jobs stimulus.  This time with a French tickler attached.

An EMP should do the trick. 

No more 'puters. 

Humans needed again.

Pure Evil's picture

But could BitCoins and the EMP go out on a jDate?

PT's picture

We don't need jobs, we need production.  Unfortunately, too few people understand this.  Too few people can handle the transition.  Not enough people can handle free time.   And no-one understands that we will have to re-think distribution.

In the meantime:
"Good news.  We sacked all our employees.  Bonuses all round." 
"Bad news.  Someone else sacked all our customers.  Whoever would have known?  Unpredictable!" 

pavman's picture

I really want to buy a factory, you know to make stuff.  Know anyone selling? An old rundown one'll do... I'd prefer not to have to move to Michigan tho...

mkkby's picture

I'll never lose my job.  The bastards NEED my TPS report every morning...  with THE CORRECT COVER SHEET.

Vendetta's picture

'free trade' was always supposed to be a one-way street right?  What could possibly go wrong?

chemystical's picture

What if you opened a business that outsources patriotism? 

I have a catchy name for it:  Congress.

PT's picture

First they outsource the blue collar workers.
Then they outsource the white collar workers.
Then they outsource the CEOs.
Then they outsource the politicians. 

RSloane's picture

This is going to present a very serious problem to the US. Automation technology engineers are working to replace low cost, low wage, no skilled or low skilled workers. We will swing from trying to unionize McDonalds to no jobs at McDonald's save for two per shift. There is going to be nowhere for low-skilled workers living in large inner cities to go. Small businesses may still hire them for part time work, but that's about it. They just won't have anywhere to go.

moneybots's picture

"This is going to present a very serious problem to the US. Automation technology engineers are working to replace low cost, low wage, no skilled or low skilled workers"


Automation technology engineers are working on replacing all jobs.  It is just going to take time.  With 7 billion people on the planet, technology is changing at a rapid pace, with so many working on technological solutions.

Bobbyrib's picture

I'm not that worried, in my experience technology seldom works as advertised. I believe we are at least hundred of years before most jobs get replaced by computers. When computer programs can actually make functioning much less flawless programs that don't need constant updating (then still don't function), I will be worried.

To me, the story of restaurants replacing waitresses with automated machines was not as revolutionary as most seemed to think. WaWa has this technology now and there is still a sandwich maker and still a cashier. In more upscale "restaurants" (more upscale than they may be able to get rid of all the waitresses and have bus boys deliver the food, but I doubt most people want the bus boy to be the ones dropping off their food (I'm in the northeast [habla espanol?]). Realistically busboys and a few waitresses would be the ones to lose their jobs. Think about it, if you could order drinks through automated systems how many more you would order. How many times does a waitress walk by you as you try to get his/her attention. With a computer, it will be as easy as pressing a few buttons.

Dave Thomas's picture

Or when they can build a robot good enough and cheap enough to send into a hole to dig crap out as opposed to some poor third world kid, that's when we're in big trouble.

CrashisOptimistic's picture

"I believe we are at least hundred of years before most jobs get replaced by computers."

Telephone switchboard operators will celebrate this prediction.

fallout11's picture

Actually, it took almost 100 years to replace telephone switchboard operators via technology (1880's-1970's).

Kiwi Pete's picture

Check out this very readable online story by Marshall Brain (the creator of,then sold for $250mil). Two very different futures, and we're rapidly approaching the turn in the road.

EscapeKey's picture

Well, either way the military needs cannon fodder.

ParkAveFlasher's picture

"Commence Operation Human Shield."

cro_maat's picture

The Zionists need warm (and free) organs to harvest as well.

Dr. Kenneth Noisewater's picture

And now, the follow on forces: Operation Stand Behind The Darkies!

Cannon Fodder's picture

Did someone call me? lol...

Cast Iron Skillet's picture

wonder how long it will take until most of the automation technology engineers are locate in China or India?

acetinker's picture

A former boss once said, "The factory of the future will be populated by only two individuals- a man and a dog.  The man will take care of the dog, and the dog will make sure the man doesn't fuck with the equipment."

pavman's picture

save for two per shift.

But at least the minimum wage will be a liveable wage for those *two* employees!